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Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Tort Liability for Fans Hit by Soccer Balls

Interesting piece by Attorney Mack Sperling on North Carolina Business Business Litigation Report on a new decision by the North Carolina Court of Appeals:
All lawyers know, from first year torts class, that if you are hit by a baseball at a baseball game, you are unlikely to have any claim against the operator of the baseball stadium. There's a well developed body of law to that effect.

Today in Allred v. Capital Area Soccer League, Inc., the North Carolina Court of Appeals held that the rules of the game may be different when it's a soccer game being played. The Allred case is apparently one of only three cases in the country that deals with injuries suffered by spectators from soccer balls kicked into the stands.

The Plaintiff in Allred was attending a women's professional soccer game at State Capital Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina. She was sitting in the stands behind one of the goals, and was hit in the head by a ball during warmups, when "many balls were directed towards the nets in a relatively short period of time." Op. at 4.. She suffered "substantial head injuries." Op. at 2.

For the rest of the piece, click here.


This is one interesting decision adn one I do not necessarily disagree with. It concludes that a lack of knowledge about aspects of a sport may overcome a presumption of assumption of risk because the danger is not obvious. So, in effect, ignorance of the sport is a defense!

Blogger Mark Conrad -- 12/16/2008 7:15 PM  

I haven't read the case or the article yet but this case is, at the outset, very strange for Europeans who grow up watching and playing soccer on a daily basis.

In addition, I am very sceptical of a valid defense based on ignorance of the sport. It brings to much of a personal "standard" into the equation, it seems. If I were one of the thousands of claimants in a baseball ball case, could I expect the court's simpathy towards my ignorance of the rules (remember, I'm european, where knowledge of baseball is a previliged of a few)?

Blogger LCN -- 12/17/2008 7:44 AM  

Wow. The Court of Appeals has no guts at all. I'd like to know what type of consortium the plaintiff's husband lost by being hit in the head with a soccer ball. I'd like to personally meet and look in the eye of anyone in North Carolina or elsewhere who can say that they did not know that walking behind a net for soccer during a game or pre-game could result in being hit with a ball. If you actually read the opinion what basically is being said is, "We in North Carolina have never dealt with this before and we should let this go back to trial so that the trial court judge can dismiss the case if the plaintiff can be shown to have understood that balls might miss soccer nets." Good grief. No guts at all....of course, if you are a trial lawyer you're just hoping for settlement, of course.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 12/17/2008 11:45 AM  

Does anybody have any experience with these North Carolina Lawyers ?

Blogger Felix Chesterfield -- 7/17/2009 1:27 PM  

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